How I Use It
I use it as a tool to teach game design before teaching game development with more robust programming tools, like Scratch. I have developed my own lessons around the Learning Guide, available on the web site for free. I developed the lessons into a self-paced walkthrough, using Wikispaces and screencasts. I also use some of the great explanations found at http://beta.gamek.it/ in my walkthrough in parallel with my Gamestar lessons.
Gamestar Mechanic helps students study "game design" or the concepts behind the basic elements of a game, and how the balance of fun and challenge in games creates flow. It is also concerned with the iteration feedback loop and how games are a complex system designed around creating a satisfying user experience. Game design is a great jumping off point for introducing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning through the lens of systems-thinking and user-centered design. Working with these complex concepts requires creativity and critical thinking in generous amounts. Basically, students have to figure out how a user is going to interact with a system that hasn't been invented yet. Further, the iterative feedback loop requires real collaboration.
I appreciate that there's a lot I can do with this for free. I am disappointed that some of the tools available require a substantial membership fee, as most public school would not be will to support anything with the word "game" in it, no matter how good.